The Assembly of the Uniting Church gathers in Perth this Sunday for a week-long meeting, which is held every three years. Before the gathering of 265 members gets down to the business of the Assembly, a worship service is held at which time the new president, Stuart McMillan, is installed.
Leadership in the Uniting Church looks very different to the so-called leadership in our political landscape. As outgoing president Rev Professor Andrew Dutney (pictured) reflected on what he had learnt over the past three years, his message was one of partnerships, reconciliation, of working together despite the challenges and difficulties.
“That’s profoundly challenging,” he said. “It’s sharply counter-cultural. But it is the kind of Church God is calling us to be.”
It is hard to know where to turn for inspirational leadership in public life. The recent three-part documentary The Killing Season, aired on the ABC, demonstrated the shallowness of political life – looking to the next poll, shoring up one’s political position, as well as the sheer skulduggery of betrayal and factionalism.
We are living in a landscape which constantly reiterates a message of fear of ‘other’. And where is this coming from? The leader of our nation: a role which in my understanding, is about giving the people confidence, a sense of calm and wellbeing; not anxiety, fear and suspicion.
And today the media is rubbing its hands with glee as our opposition leader is grilled in front of a Royal Commission and appears to be rubbery and less than shiny.
What is your response to our political leadership? How do we change the discourse? What does leadership look like in this 21st century landscape of 24/7 media scrutiny?
What role can Church and other community leaders play in trying to shift the focus on fear to one of hope?